2007 is proving to be an eye opener for me. I've always considered myself to be relatively healthful and environmentally aware. I'll be the first to admit that I have always been lacking in global thought and social responsibility when it comes to my consumption... I've been blissfully naive to my individual impact every time I purchase something. Well, no more. It's actually quite daunting to always be thinking about what impact you are having down the line when you purchase something, especially something you consume a lot of... like coffee!
I have a rather long list of books that I plan to read this year. Included on that list is the Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan. I stumbled across THIS article written by Pollan in the NY Times and have been propelled again into deep thought. The article addresses our (America's) approach to eating. He talks about where we get our 'advice' on what to eat and how getting our advice from scientists and marketing campaigns instead of our cultural roots has thrown us for a loop. Now instead of concentrating on eating FOOD (read: whole foods not processed foods) we are concentrating on eating nutrients. Forever chasing the 'things' that will make us healthy... ward off cancer and heart disease, make us thin and youthful, chasing the anti-oxidants to create a long healthy life. He suggests that much of this seems to backfire on us. We take out the beta carotene for example w/ the promise of it warding off cancer, and what we don't understand is what that beta carotene is mixed w/ inside the food we may be extracting it from. We are told it will act as an antioxidant in our body and help save us from the big C (cancer) diagnosis, but studies have shown that it doesn't do that and in some cases it may act as a PRO OXIDANT. There are apparently A LOT of carotenes w/i a particular food... not just beta carotene. What scientists don't know is how all of those carotenes work together. I can't do justice to the topic - you will have to read the ARTICLE. There is also an interesting section regarding Omega 3 and 6 oils.. I won't even try to summarize it here as I need to go back and read again to fully understand it myself.
If you find your interest or stamina is waining and you fear you won't get through all 12 pages at least skip ahead and finish off pages 11 and 12. They are kind of 'duh' ideas, but they make A LOT OF SENSE.
I read this article kind of thinking I was glad I didn't go on to get my Masters in Nutrition. I started to feel free from having to WORRY so much about what I was getting in my diet (though I can't fix the lack of nutrients in the soil I CAN eat whole veggies and fruits from my local farmer's market.. as suggested. This helps solve not only my nutrition problem, but the environmental and socially responsible aspect of my 2007 goals. Love the kill THREE birds w/ one stone thing here!).
In my eyes here are the three main things our earth and our conscious needs to focus on to take a broad step in the right direction for our mother earth and our fellow man. These will be my big focus for 2007... aside from my little tots and husband. (oh and the dog too)
1. eating wholesome (read: whole) foods
2. environmental awareness / trash, energy consumption, pesticide use, toxins
3. socially responsible consumerism
It seems that by eating wholesome (whole) foods you help to alleviate problem number two by doing away w/ much of your garbage - cereal boxes, juice cartons, individual wrapping on various products you eat - and you can step it up a notch if you compost the scraps from your WHOLESOME foods. I say why not go for the whole enchilada tackle number three too and find a local market to purchase your produce. Hey, and while you're at it take your own bags - whether they be using your other grocery bags again or bringing a basket or canvas bag to reuse over and over. You CAN make a difference!
By environmental awareness I am referring to anything and everything that has an impact on the environment... locally and globally. It can be an overwhelming thought... EVERYTHING we do and touch has some sort of environmental impact. So you get the organic farmers market veggies and fruits delivered to your door.. what of the fuel used to get that truck from the farm to your door. RELAX... baby steps. Do what you can and be mindful as you go through your day. I already challenged you to think about your garbage... to use a bag at the store, to use a canteen style cup at the coffee shop. Do SOMETHING! Do what you can handle at the moment and after you get used to that change challenge yourself to either take that to the next level or tackle another area. Skip the chemlawn treatment on your grass... go au natural. How important is it really to have pristine grass? Why is this so important to you? Wouldn't you rather save that money for retirement anyway? ha ha Change to environmentally friendly cleaning products like SHAKLEE that not only make products that aren't toxic to our environment, but cut down on the garbage hitting the landfills. Ride your bike or walk when you can. I realize this isn't an option for everyone, but cut corners where you can. It's your planet... and your kid's planet. You owe it to yourself and to them.
The socially responsible consumerism is a hard pill for me to swallow too! It takes a lot of thought and research to be a socially responsible consumer! It's daunting for me lately. I'm not sure why, but this new information (for me - I'm a bit ashamed) is causing me to not want to buy anything.. I'm sure this will pass. I'm trying the baby step approach to this as well. Consume less.. maybe pay more for the things I do purchase, but feel good about it.
That's all for now, but I want to direct you to Karen's blog again.. I just peeked over there real quick and noticed she has started reading another book on my list: The 100 Year Lie. It sounds even more daunting a task to consider the additives and synthetic chemicals that surround us on a daily basis, but we can't walk blindly through life anymore.. we ALL must wake up and smell the toxicity. We are creating a life of illness for ourselves. It's going to require quite a bit of perseverance on our parts to turn things around... the 'machine' (read industry/marketing) isn't going to do it for us.